Written by Stella, a Care for Family team member.
Easter is possibly my favourite time of the year. I think festive holidays and religious events hold different meanings for each person. For me, Easter is all about family and tradition.
Now, being raised Greek Orthodox means that all my Easters are packed with traditions that I have grown to love and absolutely cherish.
Every day of Holy Week is highly ritualistic and based on timeless traditions. By far my favourite (and the ones that my family mainly does now) are the Friday and Saturday night as well as Sunday morning church services.
Friday night is quite a spectacle – just ask anyone you know who lives near a Greek Orthodox Church! They would probably complain about the road blockages because we Greeks clog the whole block surrounding the church. On this religiously sad night (Jesus’ death), we walk around the block behind the Priest and the men carrying the Επιταφιο (epitaph). Whilst it is a symbolic walk of remembrance, what I love most about it is the fact that you see family and friends within the church community. It’s almost possible for me to walk alone without my family as I will certainly run into a friend or family member.
Saturday night is even better… the Midnight Mass. On this night, my family usually gets to church at around 11:30pm, towards the end of the first part of the service. The clock strikes 12 and the Priest starts spreading the ‘Holy Light’ to all of our unlit candles. The hymn of “Χριστος Ανεστι” (“Christ is Risen”) echoes throughout the church and the whole street. It’s now about 12:30 as we are on our way to my grandmother’s house for dinner. Yes, you read that right – the one time a year when dinner is at 1am. And let me tell you, it is one of the best dinners you will have in your life! My grandmother is a fantastic cook (probably the best I know) and at this feast we have slow cooked lamb, every possible salad you can imagine, potatoes in the oven… it goes on and on!
Being a relatively big family with many of my older cousins now having families of their own, it is difficult for our family to come together regularly. I believe this is why I cherish Christmas and Easter Day so much; these are the two days of the year where we are together as a whole family. Some of you reading this might picture your Easter as a quiet and intimate lunch with your closest family members. For us, that “quiet” lunch extends to a gathering of fifty or more loud, meat-eating, egg-cracking, food-devouring Greeks. And I absolutely love it.
The Care for Family team can’t wait to experience Easter with your family and learn about your special holiday celebrations throughout the year.